A broad-host-range vector system for studying translational fusions was constructed. The region that retains the origin of replication, nic, mob, and rep genes of the broad-host-range plasmid RSF1010 was isolated as either an HincII or a PstI-PvuII restriction fragment. These restriction fragments were ligated to tetracycline, kanamycin, or streptomycin/spectinomycin resistance genes to generate plasmids pUI501, pUI511, pUI504, and pUI506. A functional lacZ gene lacking downstream lac operon sequences together with the lac promoter was constructed from plasmids pMC1871 and pUC18. This lacZ gene was inserted into pUI501 and pUI511 to generate plasmids pUI502, pUI503, pUI512, and pUI513. An oligodeoxynucleotide sequence that carries three unique blunt-end restriction sites was synthesized, annealed, and ligated in frame to the amino-terminal end of the lacZ gene in each of these plasmids. This multiple cloning sequence will allow translational fusions to the lacZ gene in all three reading frames. The stability of these plasmids and the expression of the lacZ gene in both Escherichia coli and Rhodobacter sphaeroides were studied.